Tuesday, February 8, 2011

127 Hours - human survival at it's most extreme

Last night I went to a preview screening of 127 hours at the outdoor cinema at Burswood. As I expected from reading some reviews prior, the film was excellent. All of the film elements: script, casting, acting, set, sound, music, cinematography, editing/pacing, effects etc were singularly exceptional and also perfectly gelled together.

The dynamic soundscape, bright colours, slightly raw but crisp and powerful camera-work made for a strong impact on the senses. The representation of Aron: as reckless, bold and adventurous; spontaneous, creative and unhinged; a loving son; a young man reflecting on the failures in his life; and finally, the mix of a primal, wild super-human mad-courage and a serious, calculated and desperation-driven rationality that enabled him to cut his own arm off.

The story is inspiring because many of us would not be able to do the same. Many of us would perish, pinned by the rock. It reveals the human survival instinct at its most extreme, and it serves as a reminder for all the softies out there (myself included) to toughen the $%#* up!.

I thought I'd now dedicate the rest of this blog entry to some other brave self-amputees (being, as they are, so few in numbers - at least according to Wikipedia). On the"Self-surgery: Amputation of Trapped Limbs" page of Wikipedia, there are only four other individuals mentioned other than Aron Ralston. The following text has been copied and pasted from this page (and the cited pages). Warning: not for the squeamish!

On July 20, 1993, Donald Wyman was clearing land in a remote section of Pennsylvania, as part of his work for a mining company. In the process, a tree rolled over his shin, severely breaking the leg, and pinning Wyman to the ground. He yelled for help for one whole hour, but no one came. He concluded that the only way to save his life would be to cut off his leg. So he made a tourniquet out of his shoe string and tightened it with a wrench. Then he took his pocket knife and cut through the skin, the muscle and bone just above the knee and freed himself. He crawled thirty yards to a bulldozer, drove a quarter-mile to his truck, then maneuvered the standard transmission with his good leg and a hand until he reached a farm house one-and-a-half miles away, with his leg bleeding profusely. The farmer at the house helped him get to a hospital where his life was spared.
In 1993 Bill Jeracki was fishing near St. Mary's Glacier in Colorado, when a boulder pinned his left leg. Snow was forecast and without a jacket or pack, Jeracki didn't believe he would survive the night. Fashioning a tourniquet out of his flannel shirt and using his bait knife, he cut his leg off [3] at the knee joint, using hemostats from his fishing kit to clamp the bleeding arteries.

In 2002 Doug Goodale cut off his own arm [4] at the elbow in order to survive an accident at sea. He had become caught in a winch hauling lobster pots up from the sea floor, and could not free himself. The power of the winch left him hanging over the side of the boat, unable to either free himself or clamber back aboard. Somehow he managed to haul himself back onto the deck, dislocating his shoulder in the process. However, he was still trapped in the winch, bleeding heavily, and with no way of getting free, his only option was to pick up a knife and cut through his right arm. He then managed to pilot his boat back into harbour to get medical help.

In 2003 an Australian coal miner trapped three kilometres underground by an overturned tractor cut off his own arm[5] with a box-cutting knife. The 44-year-old man, who was not identified by police, was working late at the Hunter Valley mine when the tractor tipped over, crushing his arm and trapping him.


Nadia said...

Great post! I've been wanting to see that movie for quite a long time! I am almost sure that I won't be disappointed by it

Abu said...

Donald Wyman is my Dad...Thanks for recognizing him!

Karen said...

@Nadia - did you end up seeing the movie? Yes I also doubt that you would be disappointed by it.

@Abu - wow! your Dad is an incredible person! I think many people wouldn't have the strength and resolve to be able to go to such lengths to survive. I think stories like your Dad's would probably inspire people to be more brave not only in emergency situations, but in every-day life as well. You must be very proud.